Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chile Rice with Green Beans and Toasted Pecans

Although I like to cook with less common grains like bulgur and quinoa, sometimes it's nice to come back to good old rice. Rice is more or less just a canvas for other flavors, serving as the perfect sponge for the plethora of spices in this recipe. Don't let the name chile rice scare you off if you're generally spice averse - the chile used here is the flavorful, but mild, ancho chile, which is the dried form of the poblano (perhaps my favorite pepper). More than any recipe I've made recently, I wish I could somehow make this into a scratch and sniff blog. This smoky, sweet, and nutty notes all blend together to be so much more than the sum of their parts and fill the house with an irresistible aroma. The beautifully browned green beans and toasted pecans add more delicious nutty notes that are contrasted perfect by the fresh and citrusy cilantro and lime juice. Brown rice can be substituted for the white rice, but additional cooking time (and likely water or broth) will be required, though I think it's well through the extra investment. Substantial enough to be a light main course, this can be made heartier with grilled shrimp or chicken, or even black beans, which I found to be a surprising but delicious addition to my leftovers the next day. Another home run for Susie Middleton, I hope recipes like this one will teach more people to love veggies the way I do.

Chile Rice with Green Beans and Toasted Pecans
from The Fresh and Green Table by Susie Middleton
serves 4

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1 cup milk
3/4 cup water or lower-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 pound medium green beans, trimmed and cut cross-wise into 1/2-inch-long pieces
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more if desired
1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges

1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, ancho chile, paprika, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a liquid measure, combine the milk and water.

2. In a medium saucepan (that has a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes more. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add all the rice and about a quarter of the mixture and stir, mixing well and scraping all the spices from the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the remaining milk mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover tightly, and cook for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a heavy nonstick medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the green beans and 1/2 teaspoon salt. The pan will look full. (That's okay; the beans will steam and brown at the same time.) Cook, stirring only occasionally at first and more frequently as the beans begin to brown, until the green beans have shrunk somewhat, all have ab it of browning, and some are dark brown, 9 to 12 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the beans to a plate.

5. Remove the rice pot from the heat and place a folded paper towel under the lid. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover (the foam from the milk will be on top of the rice) and fluff and stir with a fork. Re-cover loosely with the lid (leaving the paper towel in place) and let sit for 5 minutes more. Uncover and transfer the rice to a medium bowl. Stir in all the beans, three-quarters of the toasted pecans, and three-quarters of the cilantro.

6. In a small cup, combine the lime juice and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the rice, and stir to combine. Taste the rice and season withe more salt, if needed. You can also add a bit more lime, if you like. Divide the rice among four bowls and serve garnished with the remaining pecans, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Zesty Tomato-Ginger Bisque

Although you'd never believe it after these 90-degree-plus days recently, there was a day this past week where it was more than appropriate to have grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. My last culinary experiment with fancy grilled cheese and tomato soup got me excited to try more, perfectly coinciding with my new obsession with Susie Middleton's newest cookbook, The Fresh and Green Table.
And just as with her last cookbook, Fast, Fresh and Green (which I was also obsessed with), no recipe I've tried so far has been a disappointment (look forward to more posts!). Although still a basic enough tomato soup to please almost anyone, the fennel and leeks provide subtle layers of flavor to entertain the sophisticated culinary palate. The zippy ginger notes make this tomato soup feel exceptionally fresh and make it perfectly suited to the end of summer. As with so many soups, any time that leftovers spend in the fridge only serves to let the flavors mingle and transform, making any leftovers a new and delightful dining experience. A fantastic way to dress up an old favorite, this recipe, along with an ostentatious grilled cheese, is a delicious new approach to a classic meal.

Zesty Tomato-Ginger Bisque
adapted from The Fresh and Green Table by Susie Middleton
serves 4

2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon tomato paste or sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Two 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium or 4 small leeks, white and pale greens parts only, thoroughly washed and cut crosswise into thin slices (1 1/2 cups, about 5 1/2 ounces)
1 small fennel bulb, stemmed, quartered, and thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup half-and-half (or heavy cream, for extra decadence)
Freshly ground pepper
24 to 28 Rustic Croutons (see cookbook for recipe) or crusty bread, optional

1. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, honey, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Set aisde.

2. Empty the contents of both tomato cans into a mixing bowl. Gently break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces with your hands (effective but messy!) or a pair of scissors. Add 1 cup water to the tomatoes and set aside.

3. In a large Dutch oven or other wide saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, fennel, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and continue cooking, stirring frequently and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan, until the vegetables are all browned in spots and the bottom of the pan is browning a lot, another 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Add the coriander and stir well. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the orange juice-tomato paste mixture and the tomatoes and stir well to incorporate. Bring the soup t a boil and immediately reduce to a gently simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 17 to 18 minutes. (You will notice that the soup has reduced a bit). Remove the pan from heat and let the soup cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

5. In a blender, puree the soup in three batches, filling the jar only about halfway or just a little more and partially covering the lid with a folded dish towel (leaving a vent uncovered to let out steam) to prevent hot soup from splashing you. In a large mixing bowl, combine the three batches and then return the soup to the (rinsed) pot. Whisk in the half-and-half. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if needed.

6. Reheat the soup very gently. Serve hot, garnished with the croutons.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Although he insists every year that he doesn't need one, there's no way I could let my husband go without a homemade birthday cake. Perhaps the motivations are a bit selfish because I love baking (and eating!), but more than anything I love seeing him enjoying a special treat. Although I'm happy to make any dessert he chooses, I am glad he has had the good taste to choose a dessert as wonderful as pineapple upside down cake for the past three years. I do love a nostalgia dessert, but this cake certainly deserves the upgrade to fresh pineapple from the canned pineapple and maraschino cherries of 1950s dinner parties. Sweet-tart pineapple is so beautifully accented by decadent caramel and dense cake that it's no wonder this recipe has endured for so long. A fitting celebration for a late summer birthday or a delicious treat any time of year, pineapple upside-down cake is a dessert you just can't pass on.

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake 
from Food and Wine
serves 8

1 ripe medium pineapple
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy
2/3 cup light brown sugar
9 fresh cherries, pitted (optional)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Using a sharp knife, peel the pineapple and remove the eyes. Halve the pineapple lengthwise and cut out the center core. Cut each half crosswise into five 2/3-inch-thick semicircles. Cut one of the semicircles into 3 pieces.

2. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. In a medium bowl, beat 1 stick of the butter until pale and creamy. Gradually beat the granulated sugar into the butter until the mixture is fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour mixture in 3 batches just until smooth. Stir in the Cognac and set aside.

3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; if the handle isn't ovenproof, wrap it in foil. Stir in the brown sugar and cook over moderate heat until melted and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Arrange the 9 pineapple semicircles in a tight concentric ring in the skillet and fit the 3 small pieces in the center. Cook over moderately high heat for 10 minutes. Turn the pineapple slices and lower the heat so that the mixture simmer vigorously. Cook until the fruit is tender when pierced, about 10 minutes longer. Insert a cherry in the hollow of each semicircle.

4. Remove the skillet from the heat and spread the cake batter evenly over the hot pineapple; it may not completely cover the fruit, but it will spread as it cooks. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a large platter. Serve the cake warm with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tomatillo and Lime Jam

It's a shame that I didn't discover tomatillos until well into adulthood, because they've now become one of my favorite ingredients. I'm not sure if they were just an impulse buy at the farmers' market or I picked them up because of a Rick Bayless recipe that I wanted to try, but they now make regular appearances at my house when in season. It seems like I've made nearly every iteration of tomatillo salsa out there, so when I saw this recipe on Pati's Mexican Table on PBS one Saturday morning, I immediately put it on my culinary to-do list. Different than anything I've ever made with tomatillos before, this jam preserves the flavor of tomatillos for weeks in this sweet and spicy accent for myriad foods. I found the original recipe, which used 1 1/2 cups sugar, a bit too sweet for my taste, so I scaled back the sugar and added a spicy kick with a bit of jalapeno. This jam makes a wonderfully unexpected condiment for sandwiches, can be transformed into a delicious glaze for meats, or even just used for an adventurous piece of toast.

Tomatillo and Lime Jam
adapted from Pati's Mexican Table
makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Rind of a lime, whole or chopped 
Finely minced jalapeno or serrano pepper, to taste (optional)
A pinch of salt

1. Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan set over medium heat.  Let them come to a simmer and stir occasionally, letting them cook until it has thickened and achieved a soft and loose jam consistency, about 35 to 40 minutes. 

2. Don't wait until it has thickened too much, because it thickens considerably as it cools.  Once it has cooled down, pour it into a container, cover tightly and refrigerate.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Squash and Red Quinoa Salad with Walnuts

Sometimes two of the defining characteristics of my personality will be at odds with each other - my love of a good deal, and my passion for fancy food and ingredients. This recipe, along with being healthy, is the perfect reconciliation of those often conflicting traits. Zucchini and summer squash are abundant and inexpensive this time of year, but I get to dress it up with excellent Sherry vinegar and top-notch Parmesan, turning an economical blank canvas vegetable into a vibrantly flavored dish. An abundance of fresh herbs gives a burst of freshness, walnuts lend richness and crunch, lemon juice and Sherry vinegar a subtle piquant accent, with a bed of quinoa providing enough heft to make this into a light, but satisfying, meal. Although I went with the original combination of quinoa and walnuts, there are myriad other combinations of grains (barley, rice, etc.) and seeds or nuts (almonds, pecans, pepitas, etc.) that would make wonderful substitutions. Different herbs and vinegars allow you to further personalize this recipe to your personal taste and what's currently available, the perfect kind of recipe for using up odds and ends in the pantry and fridge or creating a dish to honor any one of these ingredients. Whether you follow this to the letter or use it as a template, this recipe can surely find a way to satisfying your culinary needs in these last summer days.

Summer Squash and Red Quinoa Salad with Walnuts
adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2012

1 cup red or other quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh sieve, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1 pound assorted summer squash
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan plus 1/4 cup shaved with a peeler
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions

2. Cut squash into 1/8"-thick slices, some lengthwise and some crosswise. Transfer to a large bowl, season with 2 teaspoons salt, and toss to coat. Let sit until slightly wilted, about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Pat dry with paper towels.

3. Whisk grated Parmesan, zest, juice, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

4. Combine squash, quinoa, parsley, walnuts, and basil in a large bowl. Pour dressing over; toss to coat. Garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup with Basil

I can't imagine a life without grilled cheese and tomato soup. Although I still enjoy Campbell's condensed tomato soup and American cheese on wheat from time to time, I've really taken to fancy-ing up my grilled cheeses lately. I typically enjoy Campbell's Select Harvest Harvest Tomato with Basil soup with my sophisticated grilled cheeses, and with a few days of unseasonably cool weather lately, it was time to invest a little effort in the soup as well. There's no shortage of beautiful tomatoes at the farmers' market these days, from Roma to plum to countless heirloom varieties, and this recipe is ripe for experimentation with any variety that strikes your fancy. Roasting the vegetables intensifies their flavor, with enough fresh flavor remaining to make this dish still perfect for the summertime. Low-fat milk gives the soup ample creaminess without making it heavy and generous amounts of basil, fresh from the garden, add an extra level of freshness and brightness. As with so many soups, the flavors get even more complex as they blend and meld over time, making this a different delight each time you dig in over the course of a few days. If your garden is bursting at seams with tomatoes, this recipe is the perfect way to put them to good use. (And for the record, I made a sharp cheddar, apple, and Dijon grilled cheese to go with this soup).

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup with Basil
from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
serves 6

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups water
2 3/4 cups (about) low-fat (1%) milk
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange onion, tomatoes, carrots and garlic cloves on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are tender and brown, turning occasionally, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly. Peel garlic cloves. Transfer vegetables to large bowl (do not clean baking sheet).

2. Add 1 cup water to baking sheet, scraping up browned bits; add to blender, then add half of vegetables and puree until smooth. Transfer to large saucepan. Add remaining vegetables and 1 1/2 cups water to blender and puree. Transfer to same saucepan. Gradually add enough milk to soup to thin to desired consistency. Stir in 1/4 cup basil. Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

3. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil and serve.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zucchini with Roasted Peppers, Corn, and Cream

I don't know anyone, myself included, who really loves zucchini. Like tofu, I find it has a nice texture when cooked properly, but it really just serves as a palate for other flavors. When it comes to such a empty vessel of an ingredient, I think it best to turn towards cuisines bursting with flavor, like Mexican. As I've said so many times, who better to look to for a recipe than Rick Bayless? I'm one of those super type-A people who loves to meal plan (based on what's at the farmers' market, of course), stumbling across this as I was perusing Rick Bayless cookbooks for all-too-plentiful zucchini inspiration. In this recipe, zucchini serves as the perfect backdrop for the melding of spicy and smoky roasted poblanos and the fresh sweet corn that I am lucky enough to pick up right alongside my zucchini at the farmers' market. Like so many of my favorite recipes, this is bursting with flavor without requiring Herculean effort. While I am certainly happy to regularly take on complex culinary projects, on weeknights I rely on easy dishes like this to reward myself for a long day at work while still getting dinner on table before dark. Though a flavorful and decadent side, I made this into a main dish by serving it with some grilled chicken breast and brown rice. Feel free to lighten it up by substituting half-and-half or whole milk for the cream, but you will have to cook it for a bit longer to thicken up the sauce, so cook the vegetables a touch less before adding the dairy, lest they turn into mush. If you're looking for a way to spice up plain Jane zucchini, give this recipe a try - you won't be disappointed by how Mexican flavors transform this ordinary vegetable into something really special.

Zucchini with Roasted Peppers, Corn, and Cream
from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
yields about 2 cups, 4 servings

1 pound (4 small) zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 scant teaspoon salt, plus a little more to season the sauce, if necessary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
The kernels cut from 1 large ear fresh sweet corn (about 1 cup) or 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1 fresh chile poblano, roasted and peeled, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup Thick Cream or whipping cream

1. "Sweating" the zucchini. In a colander, toss the zucchini with salt; let stand over a plate or in the sink for 1/2 hour. Rinse the zucchini, then dry on paper towels.

2. Cooking the vegetables. Heat the butter and oil over medium-high in a skillet large enough to hold the zucchini in a single layer. When quite hot, add the zucchini and fry for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is browned and just tender. Remove the zucchini, draining as much butter and oil as possible back into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the corn kernels, chile and onion. Stir regularly until the onion is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Finishing the dish. A few minutes before serving, stir in the creamy and the zucchini and simmer for a few minutes, until the cream is reduced to a thick glaze. Add a little salt, if necessary, scoop into a warm dish and serve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Seared Salmon with Spinach and Creamy Roasted Peppers

As soon as poblano peppers appear at the farmers' market, I get renew my obsession with Mexican food. I'm not talking nachos, tacos, quesadillas and the like, but the authentic Mexican food that abuelas have been cooking for generations. And if you're looking for real Mexican recipes, look no further than the pantheon of Mexican cuisine that is Rick Bayless. (For the record, Diana Kennedy is an impeccable resource as well). I've never made a Rick Bayless dish that I didn't think was not only good, but exceptional, and this recipe most certainly does not break that pattern. Although salmon isn't a protein that you'd typically think of in Mexican cuisine, the traditional flavors of Mexico are certainly at home with salmon. Beautifully smoky and spicy roasted poblano chiles are joined by fresh spinach in a bright, yet creamy, sauce that complements the rich and fatty salmon without overpowering it. Though you only use a small amount, the masa harina adds a hint of sweetness, freshness, and texture that is absolutely vital to making the sauce its best. I suggest roasted potatoes for scooping up all the extra sauce because you won't want to leave a bit on the plate. A less-than-typical way of enjoying both Mexican food and salmon, this recipe is a must-try for anyone looking to expand their Mexican food repertoire.

Seared Salmon with Spinach and Creamy Roasted Peppers
from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
serves 4

2 fresh poblano chiles
10 ounces cleaned spinach (about 10 cups)
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 to 2 tablespoons masa harina (Mexican corn "flour" for making tortillas - look for it in well-stocked groceries)
1 1/2 cups milk, plus a little more if needed
Four 4- to 5-ounce (1 to 1 1/4 pounds total) skinless salmon fillets (snapper, halibut and catfish are also good here)
Salt and ground black pepper

1. Roast the poblanos over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler. Palce in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let cool until handleable.

2. Place the spianch in a microwaveable bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the top and microwave on high (100%) until completely wilted, usually about 2 minutes. (If your spinach comes in a microwaveable bag, simply microwave in the bag). Uncover (or open the bag) and set aside.

3. Turn the oven on to its lowest setting. Heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium. Add the garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the garlic into a blender. Set the skillet aside.

4. Rub the blackened skin off the chiles and pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse the chiles to remove bits of skin and seeds. Roughly chop and add to the blender, along with the masa harina and milk. Blend until smooth.

5. Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the fish liberally with salt and pepper. Lay the fillets in the hot oil and cook until richly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the fillets, and cook until the fish barely flakes when pressed firmly with a finger or the back of a spoon (you want it slightly underdone), usually a couple of minutes longer for dish that's about 1 inch thick. Using the spatula, transfer the fish to an ovenproof plate and set it in the oven.

6. With the skillet still over medium-high, pour the poblano mixture and whisk until it comes to a boil and thickens, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. If the sauce has thickened past the consistency of a cream soup, pour in a little more milk. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous 1/2 teaspoon. Add the spinach to the sauce and stir until it is warm and well coated with sauce.

7. Divide the creamy spinach among four plates. Top each portion with a piece of seared fish. (Or, if it seems more appealing to you, spoon the sauce over the fillets.) Serve without delay.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grilled Zucchini, Corn, and Cherry Tomato Pizza

Everything is better on the grill. Nearly every Sunday night, weather permitting, I'll roll out the Weber and grill up something for dinner. Meat is usually the focus of my grilling endeavor (though I almost always grill corn-on-the-cob as well), but I like to make the most of the dying embers and grill vegetables for use later in the week. I most recently put some of those vegetables to good use in this light and delicious summer pizza. Zucchini, an ordinarily a fairly dull vegetable, comes to life after some time on the grill, beautifully complemented by sweet, charred corn and cherry tomatoes, all mingling under a light blanket of cheese. Although a divine bite of summer just as is, this pizza could also be dressed up for the carnivores with a bit of cooked, crumbled bacon. This particular combination of vegetables was inspired both the gods of culinary creativity and a bit by convenience, but I can imagine myriad combinations of grilled vegetables that would be just as welcome at the dinner table. So use those fading coals to make the most of your summer vegetables and whip up some quick and healthy pizzas of your own!

Grilled Zucchini, Corn, and Cherry Tomato Pizza
serves 3 to 4 as a light main course or 6 to 8 as an appetizer

3 whole grain individual pizza crusts, pitas, flatbreads, or roti (I used Stonefire Whole Grain Tandoori Roti)
3/4 cup pizza sauce, purchased or homemade
3-4 ounces grilled or roasted zucchini
3/4 cup roasted corn (from 2 ears)
9 cherry tomatoes (about 3-4 ounces)
6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
3 ounces shredded or thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)

1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Spread 1/4 cup pizza sauce on each roti. Top each with 1/3 of the zucchini, corn, and cherry tomatoes and sprinkle the fresh basil over the top. Top each with 1/3 of cheese.

3. Bake until cheese is melted and just starting to brown, about 8 to 12 minutes. Allow to rest briefly, slice each into 4 pieces, and enjoy warm.